The inability of the Madhya Pradesh government to check the use of prohibited plastic (polythene less than 40 microns) for the last three years will hinder the success of Swachh Bharat (clean India) mission in the state. Despite intermittent initiatives of the authorities, the government has not been able to check the use and sale of banned polythene.
The polythene menace is quite visible in most aread of Bhopal from municipal dustbins, nullahs, drains to local water bodies. The large number of polybags, besides harming environment because of their non-biodegradability, also ends up choking the drains and nullahs.
The menace of polybags has also killed cattle or made then ill here in the past. Cattle end up eating polybags while eating leftovers thrown in the polybags.
Since 2011, administration has been trying to enforce ban on the prohibited polythene, but it has not succeeded. Its storage and sale continues, despite the raids by Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials.
BMC has been conducting regular raids on the premises of traders and shopkeepers in areas like Ghoda Nakhas, Nav Bahar Sabzi Mandi and Rainee Wali Gali area, seizing banned polythene.
Last year, BMC and Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPSPCB) jointly conducted a raid at a trader in Mangalwara area of Bhopal and seized over 8 quintals of polythene.
In February 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 to replace the earlier Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999 (amended in 2003). According to the new rules, plastic carry bags less than 40 microns in thickness were banned. States were asked to enforce ban.
Even National Green Tribunal recently rapped the MP Government for its failure to enforce the ban on polythene. On October 15 this year, NGT ordered MP government to issue necessary orders for imposing total ban on manufacture, sale, distribution and use of plastic (poly carry bags of less than 40 microns) by October end.
Having found that ban imposed on banned polybags had not achieved the desired results, it directed the MP Government to notify orders as has been done by Rajasthan for imposing total ban on the manufacture, sale, distribution, use etc. of plastic carry bags.
The Bench said that it was granting one more opportunity to MP in the light of the reminder issued by Ministry of Environment and Forests to all the chief secretaries in July this year to order ban by October end.
However authorities have a different take on poor enforcement. MPSPCB regional officer Bhopal PS Bundela told HT that unless public becomes aware about the dangers of polybags and cooperates, initiatives and campaigns won't succeed.
"In vegetable markets, people insist for polybags and then back at home throw kitchen waste in the same bag. There is no segregation or keeping polybags aside for recycling," he said.